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Subject: Don't worry about the name - play the game! rss

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Martyn Fookes
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Disclaimer; This is my first review, so comments are welcome on style and substance! Well, I say welcome, I'll let you know...

"Why did you buy it mate?"
I've always liked chess and now my 9 year old son has developed a keen interest - I'd read this game is basically "chess with extras". I guess it's the strategy aspect that attracts me to chess - if I win it's generally because I out-thought my opponent. I've also been known to show more than a passing interest in fantasy themed games: Yu-Gi-Oh! (Yes, I know, but give it a try before you knock it! If you insist on knocking it blame my son; he got me hooked by giving me his cast off cards), Descent (fantastic game btw), Dungeon Twister (if I had the talent I'd love to come up with some 3D gear for this!) etc. So, based on the generally favourable reviews I'd read online, I thought I'd give Navia Dratp a go...

"But it's collectable! Didn't that put you off?"
Well, I'd read that the starter sets are both different and that the pieces are not duplicated in the boosters*. Plus, several reviews have mentioned that the game is so well balanced that you get plenty of varied play from the starters without having to look to the boosters for extending the replayability (I know that's not a 'real' word, but you know what I mean!)
*Apparently there are "painted" versions of the starter set characters in some boosters - I can't verify this as we've only got the starters so far!

"What's it going to cost me then?"
Well, over here (England) it costs around £16 per starter set. You need to buy both starter sets (Red and Blue flavours) unless you already know someone who already owns one, so thats around £32+. Question, why would you buy only 1 starter set? You can't play with just one starter?

"Anything else I should know before you eventually get down to reviewing the game?"
Yes; the terminology in the game is OUT THERE! But don't panic - It's no more wierd (imho) than learning about rooks, pawns, nagas, goblins or whatever. Sure, some of the terms Bandai have used defy easy pronunciation (is it "drat", "drat-puh", "drat-pee" or "drap"?) but hey, you'll soon make your own versions up anyway (we went with "drap" ). If I can explain the rules to my 9 year old son in about 10 minutes using Bandia's terminology (and my pronunciation ) then I don't consider it a big deal!

"What do you get for your money then?"
You get (in each starter) a painted Navia (essentially your King), 7 unpainted Maseitai (your cool battle pieces) and 9 Gulled (think pawns). I reckon the pieces are pretty cool and, it would appear, they're pretty cool if you're 9 too: "Wow! Much better than I was expecting..." was how my erstwhile opponent greeted the first one out the box.

You get a folded/split cardboard board with each starter. Now, I'm not overly keen on the board: First off, it worried me that it appeared to be stuck together and made a horrible "Oh no, it's ripped" noise as it became unstuck (It wasn't ripped, but worrying nonetheless - think fingernails down a blackboard). Secondly, out of the 2 boards we now own, one is rather warped. The board is a 7x7 playing area and, I have to say, I find it rather "busy" and dare I say it "ugly"... The best way I can describe it is "It's a bit 'shouty'"... If the playing area was 8x8 I'd happily use our wooden chess board. Question: In the manual there is a picture of what looks like some sort of cloth board which strikes me as being much more attractive (and subdued). Where can I get one?

You also get a small instruction book, nice glossy paper, some nice illustrations and concise, easy to follow rules.

The quality of the battle pieces is very good. Only 2 have slight problems (a slightly bent spear for Moses and a slightly wonky wand for Troll) but unless you're giving them a really close inspection you'll never notice; it really isn't a big deal. The pieces are also a decent size: between 2 and 3 inches tall I'd say, depending on the character (that's between 5 and 7 cm for everyone now going "inches?" laugh ). Whilst the paint job on the Navia's is certainly of a good standard (no splodges, smudges or anything like that), it doesn't appear very detailed (not much going on in the way of blending or anything) but that's not a negative - it suits the models - However, make sure you check out the eyes - fantastic!

The packaging is oversized for what's inside (I recommend writing down on the plastic insert which Masetai came out of which hole for easy re-packing) but my main point here is "What's the deal with all the sticky-tape?" I ended up covered in the stuff! How many rolls went into sealing each box and strapping down the stuff inside that was already in heat-sealed plastic bags or cable-tied to the insert? Make sure you've got plenty of room when you unpack it for the first time because when I did it the scene was reminiscent of when Lee Evans got tangled up with the string in Moust Hunt... (Rent it if you don't know what I'm on about - think Live action Tom & Jerry - Great stuff!)

"Enough already, is it any good?"
Yes. I'll own up: We've only played one game so far and it lasted about an hour. But, I can't wait to play again tonight! I was gutted when I had to turn down an invitation to play this morning because I had to come to work...

"How long did it take you to get the game going properly?"
We had the basics down in about 2 minutes and referred to the manual 3 or four times during the game.

"What's it play like then?"
What you need to know to play (the basics are here not the detail!):
-You have a Navia (King), 7 Masetai (Battle pieces) and 9 Gulled (pawns)
-Moving Gulled earns you Gyullas (money)
-Gyullas is used to dratp (promote) your Maseitai
-A dratped Masetitai will be better than a normal one (think "special power")
-You take other pieces off just like chess (move on top of them) or via a "special power"
-You win by either taking the opponents Navia (you announce check just like chess), moving your Navia off your opponents end of the board (Navia Goal), dratping your Navia (Navia Dratp!) or forcing your opponent to give in (BOO! At least go down fighting! Cheat already, just don't give in! )
-Err, that's about it... You'll be able to play now... Told you it was easy!

Cool things:
-Each Maseitai moves differently, and it probably changes after dratping
-Maseitai that have been "taken" can be returned to play by getting a Gulled off your opponents end of the board (Line Over) or by the dratp effect of some of the Masetai
-You can mix the starter sets to get different teams because there is no concept of "colour" (you determine who's character is who's by the direction the piece is facing. This is made easier by the fact that each character has a "wheel" at the front showing how they move - neat - the wheel is flipped when the character is dratped - neat)

The game last night contained plenty of "Ah ha!" moments: Each player thought they'd got the upper hand only for the other to go "Ah ha! That's what you think, now I'm going to do this and you're in trouble..." Learning what each character's strengths and weanesses are is where the time investment is going to come in. But Bandai do furnish you with cards (quite flimsy - keep them safe!) with nice artwork on them detailing each of the character's abilities (A nice touch is that this info is also duplicated on the bottom of each characters base if the cards do go awol!)

There's also a good level of angst involved in decision making:
-Should you summon a Masetai to the field? (Only the Navia and the Gulled start in-play and summoning a Maseitai takes your whole turn - you can't do anything else)
-Should you move a Gulled to get some Gyullas to dratp a Masetai? (You can't summon or dratp if you do!)
-Should you get stuck in with your Maseitai? (You won't earn any Gyullas unless you can take an opposition piece!)
-What if you make the wrong type of move and haven't managed to spot what your opponent is up to? (Think about what could be going on the head of your chess opponent strategy-wise and then double it... Heck, double it again and you're still probably not there!)

"I couldn't be bothered to read through all that rubbish: Do you recommend the game?"
Yes. From a single play. Cut past all the terminology and you have a simple, but deep strategy game. Cool pieces (Did I mention the Gyullas gems are oddly fascinating in a "my precious" kind of way? You will keep fiddling with them whilst mulling over your next move )
The only down-side is the board. But then once you've got the game going you forget that IT'S A BIT LOUD and it ceases to be a problem!

I think it's a top game. Go buy it.

CD

PS.
I sincerely hope someone finds this "review" usefull. I've found BGG really helpful when deciding what games to buy since discovering it last year and thought I ought to contribute - My way of saying "thanks"... cool
Let me know where I've gone wrong and I'll try and take any criticism on board for next time.
Be gentle! shake
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Martyn Fookes
United Kingdom
Brighton
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In case you are interested, here's a quick follow up...

Got through 2 more games yesterday:

Game #1: My wife went down in flames to my son. But he managed to explain the rules to her (not me!), so that's another nail in the coffin of the argument that "terminology is an issue in this game". It's also rare for my wife to like a fantasy-themed game, she normally considers those as "games for the boys"! So if the "manga & monsters" theme puts you off give it a go anyway, you might just like it...

Game #2: I got absolutely toasted by my son in about 15 minutes flat after work last night - saw it coming after about 10 minutes and completely failed to stop him! blush

Note to self: Nuke opponents "Gyullas Turtle" as soon as the little blighter gets dratped!

I know we've not had a massive session with this yet, but my enthusiasm doesn't appear to be waning; I'm going to stick with my original opinion that it's a great game!
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Mike James
United Kingdom
Lee On Solent
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Thanks for a great review - I shall hopefully pick this game up when the gods of £££ are more in my favour. arrrh
 
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Martyn Fookes
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Glad you found it useful!

Legend Games (http://www.legendgames.co.uk/cgi-bin/sh000020.pl?REFPAGE=htt...) have one (only one?) starter set for £10...

 
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Freakin' Ed
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Saylorsburg
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Great review. From time to time I have thought about purchasing this one, but I was never too sure. This review has rekindled my interest, and I think I might just have to pick this one up. Thanx.
 
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Seth Owen
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Good review! Write more of them!
 
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Jenny Nguyen
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Great review . I was considering picking this one up awhile back but the name turned me off severely. I mean..."Drapt"? Anyhow - it sounds pretty good. I might look into it some more. Thanks!
 
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Jonathan
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I'm glad to see ND getting more attention. I picked up the game a few weeks ago during a new player promotion, and after scouring the web, I own both sets, all at a cost of less than $80, shipping included. For a collectible game, that isn't bad. I never need to buy another piece, and I'm having great fun. We ignore the weird terms when we play though, they don't add anything, so we replace them with english.
 
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Martyn Fookes
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I know what you mean!

We go with English for everything apart from "Navia" & "Dratp"!

-"Gyullas" doesn't become anything: We say stuff like "You get 3 for that" (We're so lazy!)
-"Gulled" are "Pawns" (so much simpler!)
-"Maseitai" get called by their names (or nicknames - come on, you know you do too!) My son refers to Agunilyos as "Cheesy queen bloke" because of his chess-queen-like movement after dratping (but only when he's on my side), when he's got him it'll be something like "The mighty Agunilyos"... laugh

Cool game, seriously considering some boosters now! Well, maybe after pay-day...

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Jeremy Carlson
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Wheaton
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Martyn, don't buy the boosters. The 2 starteres, which I got for less than $40 in the US come with most of the best pieces. Go to naviadratp.com, search through the piece list, find the ones you like, and buy the singles at ebay. Much cheaper this way, and you won't end up with a bunch of figs you will never use. Also, there is a group for navia dratp on yahoo, and if you are a little savy with a computer, there is a version of it on the Vassal Engine with all of the new pieces (http://www.vassalengine.org). It lets you play against other people, though at the moment it doesn't seem like anyone goes on to play navia until late at night.

Nice review by the way.
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Rick Monson
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Chantilly
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Martyn,

Very nice review. I can get a sense of the 'flavor' for this game from your comments. One thing I find appealing is the lack of dice to decide 'combat' -- ah the good-old-days, "my pawn takes your rook."

Have read the rules online, I really wish they would drop all the funky anime terms and just use straight chess ones. The pieces do behave differently (reminds me of Feudal by Avalon Hill), but many mechanics share a chess background.

Time to think about picking it up (if I can find someone to play).


 
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N Koff
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Portage
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And now...
It's time to play the game again.

Pick an opponent, an play in the PBF (Play-By-Forum) right here over the BGG
 
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